So if your pizza takes 8 hours, and the delivery girl decides to bum your internet for a few hours… Should you still tip?
Video Games, RPGs like D&D, Other MMOs
It’s getting to feel a lot like Christmas. As in that gaming news keeps clawing its way earlier and earlier on the calendar. Back when I was a kid, it was all about CES. Then the gaming industry started its own show so it wouldn’t be lumped in with TVs and Camcorders called E3. Then the REAL news started showing up before E3 at Press Conferences. Finally, here we are two weeks before E3 and the game industry is throwing out announcements and teasers like they were 8 month old spaghetti you found in some Tupperware in the back of the top shelf of the fridge that you can never see all the way unless you crouch down so you forget things back there a lot and oh hey we DID have butter!
Anyway, let’s get into it.
What we know: Fallout 76 is being developed by Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Game Studios Austin (Formerly BattleCry Studios). We know its set in Vault 76, one of VaulTec’s “Control Vaults” that didn’t have any weird experiments and was set to open 25 years after the bombs fell – making this one of the earliest Fallout games chronologically. We know that Bethesda Austin has experience with multiplayer (they assisted Id Software with making Doom 2016’s multiplayer mode) and we know that they were hiring people with Free-to-Play/Micro-transaction game experience.
What We Think: My money is on some kind of squad based multiplayer game that are all the rage with developers right now (From what I can tell, the public isn’t really biting) – probably to compete with EA’s Anthem and Activision’s Destiny. No clue how required the multiplayer aspect will be for the game, but you can bet that micro-transactions will be involved. The game will probably center around venturing out of the vaults and trying to stake a claim in the post-apocalyptic world, establishing the earliest settlements in the wastes, etc.
I also wouldn’t be shocked if there was some PvP elements to this, since then Bethesda can recycle the canceled BattleCry game with its 5v5 squad based combat as some level of return on investment.
What We Know: Pokemon’s first major outing on the Switch is a return to basics with a semi-reboot of the original Red/Blue games updated with new mechanics. Everything from Team Rocket to Mewtwo was shown in the trailer as well as being a return to “Your First Adventure” in the Kanto Region.
However, this time you have a shoulder-riding pal in Pikachu or Eevee that can be dressed up and played with. The wild pokemon catching mechanic seems to built on the Pokemon Go mobile app’s core mechanics rather than battling but battling with your pokemon is still a thing with other trainers.
There will be additional functionality between Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let’s Go where you will be able to send Pokemon back and forth from the two games (depicted as being possibly temporary or in a minor way – it was shown being imported into a “Go Park” in the trailer).
The game will have a multiplayer component. The game only uses a single joycon to play, so if someone hops on using the the second joycon, you will have a second player join you in the game. It appears you’ll be able to try and catch pokemon together with properly timed ball tosses giving some kind of special bonus perhaps.
Finally, there will be a ‘substitute’ joycon in the form of the Pokeball Plus – a pokeball with a joystick/button at its center. Meaning the the mechanics to play the game can likely be distilled into a joystick to move, a button to interact, and motion controls to throw balls. The Pokeball Plus can also store an ‘uploaded’ pokemon that you can take with you. Unsure if its ANY pokemon or just Pikachu/Eevee.
What We Think: In terms of a first outing on a new console? I think this is a great idea. It combines the already popular Pokemon Go app with the traditional pokemon experience, it takes full advantage of everything that the Switch can offer a game (Multiplayer with multiple joycons, motion controls, etc.), and gives a fresher update on the original Kanto games (Let’s be honest, LeafGreen and FireRed didn’t bring a ton of ‘new’ to the table beyond using the Ruby/Sapphire game engine and allowing you to trade to old pokemon to the newer games).
For those who were hoping for a more tradiitonal Pokemon experience, Nintendo was nice enough to make mention that another ‘brand new’ Pokemon game was slated for 2019. I however will be VERY happy with this one in the meantime. It looks fun and has a lot of fresh new ideas to play with. I do want to dress Eevee up as a mad scientist.
What We Know: Don’t care.
What We Think: Really don’t care.
After some technical issues, Vry finally dives into the world of Albion and explores the horrific backstory of classes, tests, and a schoolyard rival… Oh! And your family dies. Check out Vrykerion and the Land of Odd every 2nd and 4th Wednesday live at 7pm MST on https://www.twitch.tv/vrykerion
I apologize for being quiet around here lately. Between my real job picking up with a big new project and my own little side adventure I’ll be getting into in the moment, I haven’t had a lot of time to post. It happens. But hey, that’s just the bad news. The good news is you’ll have a chance to see a lot more of me coming soon if you enjoy my trademark wit, dry observations, and eccentric ramblings.
We are going live on Twitch!
Previously I had been testing the waters out with the Premiere system – kind of like YouTube videos on Twitch but with the videos premiering “Live” at a set point before being added to an archive. Now the current plan is still to do those, but augment it with nights where I’ll be broadcasting games live. The premieres will be used for migrating my YouTube archive over to Twitch, weeks were I know I won’t be available, or for videos I need to do more post-production work on like the Sims 4 videos where I have overlays showing how much money I have and how far into my challenge I am. That in mind, my Twitch Schedule both here and on my Twitch page will make note of when a broadcast is Live or a Premiere.
The schedule is still remaining a static every 2nd and 4th wednesday at 6pm PST. If you’re interested, you can always go and give me a follow on Twitch. It doesn’t cost anything (that’s ‘Subscribing’) and you can set it up to let you know when I go live with a broadcast.
The reason this has taken so long is that well, I’m a stickler for appearance. Regardless of whether its a source of income or not, I work hard to make the visuals and flow of this website something that’s at least aesthetically pleasing to me. I like it when I can present myself in a way that I am happy with and not just with some default slapdash thing. So I have been working on developing overlays for my Stream – at least enough to start with, some functions are still defaults with some customization tossed in. I’ve been building up a theme, getting music, setting up software… I just want to be able to display something I’m proud of.
After the liveshows on Twitch, they’ll be uploaded to YouTube some time within the following week and likewise posted here when they do. So just because you miss out on the live part, doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out completely.
I would like to thank everyone on here, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for their support in this endeavor. It’s not a full time thing, it’s not even a replacement for this blog, but it is the most important thing – something I have fun doing. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or even constructive criticisms I always happily welcome them.
Last year, I proposed a simple goal for myself. To produce 12 YouTube videos for this site in 12 months. I dubbed it the 12-in-12 goal. I figured that it would be a simple enough goal. That’s one video a month. With a goal of one year, so if I fell behind or had technical issues, I had wiggle room to recover.
However, despite my attempts to do so, I only managed to produce 4 videos. The next four episodes of the Sims 4 Shakespeare Monkey Challenge. (They have managed to actually make some progress finally it seems. Though it occurred to me that 365 days in the Sims 4 is a lot more than a year. It’s more along the line of 4.5 lifetimes. Had to readjust some of that math or they ALL would die of old age.) And while I had planned some additional fun videos, including one of the worst RPGs I ever found on Steam and some horror games for the Fall, things just kind of never came together.
Partially because the second half of the year was a maelstrom of stressful events in my real life. For instance, I got married. I went on my honeymoon. My spouse and I were both battling severe depression amidst these happy events brought on by stress and other factors. It was a crazy second half of the year – crazier than I even expected. Like, did you know planning a wedding kind of sucks? Yeah. Me neither.
Overall, I can’t shrug responsibility. I set forth a goal for myself and I failed to meet it. I’d be more upset about that but its not like I have any amount of internet cred or even financial stability riding on this. I don’t make money from this blog, I don’t monetize my YouTube videos – they are all things I do for fun. Because I do come up with weird things to say and feel like sharing it for a chuckle or two.
With that spirit in my mind, I have decided to give it all another go. 12-in-12-in-2018 or some such. Going to try to do the whole 1 video a month. And hopefully no chaos, or trips to Walt Disney World, or happiest days of my life will get in the way this time.
Please look forward to it! And if you ever have any suggestions for games to play, or topics you’d like to see me cover, please let me know! I’m on twitter, tumblr, or just here on a comment. I read pretty much everything people send to me. (So many heartwarming comments of people who enjoy my fun little blog here!)
Something I’ve often toyed with aside from my own game FateStone was the idea of re-creating a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in something like RPG Maker. Seems easy right? You’ve got dungeons, monsters, characters all there and ready to go! However, the big hurdle is quite simply that the way combat works does not overlap. Like at all. RPG Maker’s combat calculations are more inspired by Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest than anything you’d find in a Pen & Paper RPG tome. So I recently put my mind to work on figuring out how exactly you would be able to bring a d20 or D&D Style of combat to a RPG Maker game.
Now take in mind that this is a very basic version of what I started working with. While I have started working on versions to incorporate all the different D&D ability scores, I haven’t hammered out all the nitty gritty of using them. So for now I strictly went for Attack Roll (Attack) vs AC (Defense) and Spell Attack (Magic Attack) vs Saving Throw (Magic Defense).
First is the dice roll:
1dX = Math.randomInt(X)+1
YdX = Math.randomInt((X*Y), Y) + 1
For the YdX formula, it’s important to note that you’ll be setting the range of the random numbers, when it says X*Y you should replace that with the actual value of X * Y. In other words, for 3d6 don’t put (6 * 3) just put (18). These formulas will be used for everything from determining the attack to the damage, so they are pretty much the cornerstone of this whole thing. But another important one would be how to you get the Ability Modifier from the Ability Score. For that you’ll want to use the following calculation:
Math.Floor((A – 10)/2) = M
A = Ability Score. M = Ability Modifier.
In simple terms, you subtract 10 from the Score, divide that by 2 and round down (because you always round down in D&D) and that will give you the modifier. So an Attack (Strength) of 14 would result in a modifier of 2.
So how would this work for an actual skill? Well, let’s take a look at one. First, you’ll want to set the Skill in RPG Maker to be a ‘Certain Hit’. We are just going to skip the whole Accuracy/Evade cycle of the attack in favor of our own math. Then our damage formula will look something like this:
If (b.def <= (Math.randomInt(20) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2) + (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )) Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (MOD – Math.Floor(a.level/2)); else 0
Kind of crazy, right? Let’s break it down.
If (b.def <=: This First bit is essentially starting an ‘If-then’ clause that says if the following math results in something equal to or higher than our target’s defense (AC).
(Math.randomInt(20) + 1: This is our d20 roll.
+ (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2): This is adding our attack modifier
+ (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )): This adds half our level to the math and finishes our If condition. So it’s a random number between 1-20, plus the modifier, plus half our level.
Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2)); This part is our damage calculation. Essentially, do this much damage (a random XdY dice amount) plus our Attack modifier damage.
else 0 And if the math DIDN’T equal or beat the Target’s Defense(AC), then deal zero damage due to it being a miss.
To summarize, the formula is basically:
If (Target AC) <= 1d20 + Attack Modifier + Half Level; Deal XdY + Attack Modifier damage; else deal no damage.
Naturally, you can probably imagine how this basic formula can be applied to a lot of different things. It forms the basic idea for skill checks, saving throws, and pretty much any Difficulty Check based roll. You could replace the target defense with a d20 roll on the enemy side as well and have an opposed check.
As I said at the top, this isn’t perfect. It doesn’t quite yet take into account D&D’s Ability Scores, which I’m still working on. Mostly just stuck on thinking of a way to make the Target Defense side of things work when b.def would simply be their Constitution score or something.
If I ever figure out a good solution to it, I will let you know.
In the mean time, you might find the following plug ins for RPG Maker MV to be handy when it comes to recreating the D&D experience:
Yanfly’s Weapon Unleash: Allows you to reassign a different attack skill to different weapons, thus being able to give daggers a different damage formula than a great axe.
Yanfly’s Limited Skill Usages: For those interested in bringing D&D 4th Edition’s system of At-Will, Encounter and Daily abilities to the game, this plugin can help. However, you might want to create a common event for sleeping that gets called when using an item like ‘Camping Set’ or something to reset the Daily uses.
Be they Loot Boxes, Prize Crates or good ol’ fashion RNG Containers, there’s nothing quite like the topic of Reward Cubes to bring a heated boil to the gaming community at large. Are they pay-to-win? Are they gambling? Do they belong in full price $60 games? Do they belong in anything beyond Free-To-Play games? Should they exist at all?
Recently, the controversy has boiled up a bit thanks to some rather ahem… enthusiastic reaches by companies like WB Interactive and Electronic Arts in their big fall titles (Shadows of War, Star Wars Battlefront 2) and I’ve heard that even the sports games have decided to dab their quills into the ink as well with the latest installment of 2K sportsball and Forza something or other. I will admit, the practice has gotten admittedly scummier since my first encounter with the loot box scenario when they were added when Star Wars The Old Republic went debatably free to play (two hot bars, a 250k credit limit, and can’t equip any epic loot but hey it’s free to suffer through!)
Now you have loot boxes that are tied directly to player progression, offering new abilities and ability boosts in Battlefront 2 or simply being able to skip the grind and have a medley of legendary orcs spring forth from a chest like clowns from a car. And yeah, that’s B.S. I’m not even gonna sugar coat it. Optional or not, cash should not be a way to skip the game you just paid sixty bucks for. It definitely shouldn’t let you be able to quickly overpower players that don’t shell out for it. I’m glad there seems to be at least a majority consensus on THAT at least.
Personally, the only way I’ve really “enjoyed” loot boxes – not that I’ve ever enjoyed them. Put up with them? – was in games like Overwatch. Where they don’t give you anything BUT random visual flair to add to the game. And you earn them when you level up. Nice. But hey, then they went above and beyond and added ADDITIONAL ways to get free crates in the Arcade. So not only do you not have any tangible reason to get them beyond looking cool but they also keep giving you more ways to get them? Not a half bad model. Still would like just ways to unlock the skins and whatnot on my own in the game maybe. Not banking on random chance from a box every few hours. Maybe some sort of unlock systems based on in-game achievements? You know like you already do with certain sprays? Bah. Oh well.
Of course, there are still down sides to Overwatch’s model too. The whole thing is psychologically angled to make you want to spend. You see someone with the cool thing? You want the cool thing. Better go pay money for a chance to get the cool thing. A covetous model of persuasion is exactly what Activision’s recent patent for Microtransaction-based Matchmaking is built on. Instead of matching players on skill or win ratio, it finds the ‘Haves’ and then pairs them against the ‘Have Nots’ and then after you lose to their Cash Shop Super Weapon while donning their Ultra Rare Skin, you offer them the chance to get the same cool stuff from these handy dandy cubes o’ stuff we sell for real dollars. Psychology is a dangerous weapon when paired with greed.
For no better example of psychology being used to line the pockets, look no further than gambling. Oh, I hear the screams of forums back in TOR echoing through to the youtube comments of today of ‘It’s not gambling – you always get something!’ And that’s true. Sort of. Loot crates are a weird legal loophole where since you always get something out of it, it’s not gambling. But you also always get nothing – nothing tangible with an attached dollar value that can resold – so it’s also not gambling. HOWEVER, from a psychological standpoint and not a legal one, Reward Cubes are very much gambling. They scratch that same itch, provoke the same reaction, and still drive you to swipe your credit card over and over chasing an elusive jackpot. Heck, why else would the crazy Kylo Ren-style lightsabers be introduced as a new ultra-ultra-ultra rare platinum item in SWTOR? It’s the hot new thing. It’s only comes from the cash-only loot boxes. It’s got a 1-in-10,000 chance to drop! Didn’t get it in this box? That makes it MORE likely to be in the next, right? (Not how that works at all by the way.)
Loot boxes CAN be dangerously addicting to those with a pension for such habits. And sure, there are non-loot box ways you could get it. Someone could sell theirs in the in-game market for in-game currency. But that still means SOMEONE paid cash for it. And to be honest, I casually played SWTOR for years – played every class at least once if not twice or three times – and I STILL never made enough credits to buy one of those Kylo Ren sabers for what they were going for on the market. Eventually just decided that was one thing I was never gonna end up getting. Like PvP achievements.
Overall, I think what I was going for with writing about this was that I’m used to seeing people take a very hard line stance on this issue. Understandable since it’s a very passionate issue. But I don’t think there’s really a good hard line stance to take. Loot boxes can be a fun addition to a game. I do think Blizzard is getting a knack for what a good balance of what should be in the crate, how easy it should be to get free crates vs paid crates, and definitely figured out a good way to make them feel fun. However, left unchecked the whole system begins to turn corrupt. You see pay to win become an incentive to buy crates, you see things being designed to nudge players toward crates to speed up or skip parts of the game, and you see the effort being put in to continue to make more alluring jackpot items to drive that addictive quality in wanting to keep buying to get the best stuff. Heck, I’ll even say that Overwatch could be improved. They gave away loot boxes for Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone for Twitch Prime that had guaranteed rare items like legendaries or gold cards. I’d love to see that sort of thing be added to the game as a reward for major achievements. Get 100 wins? Get a gold box. Unlocked all of a character’s achievements? Get a gold box. Complete a limited time holiday quest? Get a gold box so you will at least get ONE of the legendary skins during the small holiday event windows.
I wanted to approach it all rationally. I don’t think reward cubes are going anywhere. I think that as the industry pushes more to perpetual monetization over pay-once-and-your-done tactics with games we need to start really critically thinking about where we as consumers feel comfortable drawing the line. All or nothing approaches may be admirable, but so is throwing yourself on your sword and none of it accomplishes much. There doesn’t have to be a universal approach either. I want to encourage everyone to find their own personal line on the topic and then work with that. Let that be a personal factor in your buying decisions. It’s one of the reasons that despite looking amazing and fun, I didn’t buy into Battlefront or Battlefront 2. It’s why I remain hesitant about Anthem. It’s one of the major reasons I decided to stop playing SWTOR.
But I am not going to presume to tell you to do the same. All I’m gonna ask is that you think about it. Think about what you want and what you are comfortable with.
For those who have been wondering about the “Coming Soon” story summaries for Heavensward’s patches (3.1 – 3.5), your wait is now over! All of the story summaries for the Main Scenario Questline in Heavensward are now finished and posted on the Heavensward Story Summary page.
Unlike Heavensward where the decision to write the summaries came after finishing the 3.0 MSQ, I will be doing my best to keep notes on the plotlines of Stormblood as I play through it. Hopefully to decrease the downtime before I am able to get the next batch of story summary for the newest expansion out since as it has come to my attention, some people have been using my summaries as a way of not just catching up on the narrative but also skipping the non-voiced cutscenes and reading what happens here. Hey, if that’s how you want to play – go for it. Not my fifteen bucks. But I figured I should TRY to not wait until the end of the expansion before posting the Stormblood summary.
So if your pizza takes 8 hours, and the delivery girl decides to bum your internet for a few hours… Should you still tip?
I’m happy to announce that just in time for the new Final Fantasy XIV expansion Stormblood, I have managed to put together a solid story summary for the story of Heavensward. While the “patch storylines” aren’t finished yet – namely because I haven’t played through those extensions to the Main Scenario yet – the main storyline of the expansion is now available to read here.
I don’t have a set date for when those remaining stories will be up mostly because I’m debating waiting until Stormblood is released to play through those patches since when Heavensward was released the 2.X patch story rewards were altered to give equipment to prevent having to grind item levels to progress to the next major step and since my current ilevel is sitting around 203 at the moment, and you need 230 to get through all the dungeons involved in the quests… Yeah, I might just wait and see if I can make this a bit easier on myself. If someone who is more active in the news for Final Fantasy XIV knows one way or the other if they plan on doing this again, do please let me know.
Otherwise, I’ll just keep on my current mission of “Get all Classes/Jobs to Level 30 then to Level 50” until Stormblood arrives.
EDIT: Upon further research, it seems that the Main Scenario Quests for Heavensward will have to be completed in order to access the Stormblood story, but you won’t need to do it to access the Samurai and Red Mage jobs. So I’m thinking it’s pretty likely for them to include “Catch Up Gear” with the quests like they did with ARR leading into Heavensward.